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Focusing on the 17th-century play of mourning, Walter Benjamin identifies allegory as the constitutive trope of modernity, bespeaking a haunted, bedeviled world of mutability and eternal transience. In this rigorous elegant translation, history as trauerspiel is the condition as well as subject of modern allegory in its inscription of the abyssal.
Walter Benjamin is widely acknowledged as amongst the greatest literary critics of this century, and The Origin of German Tragic Drama is his most sustained and original work. Indeed, Georg Lukacs—one of the most trenchant opponents of Benjamin’s aesthetics—singled out this work as one of the main sources of literary modernism in the twentieth century. The Origin of German Tragic Drama begins with a general theoretical introduction on the nature of the baroque art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, concentrating on the peculiar stage-form of the royal martyr dramas called Trauerspiel. Benjamin also comments on the engravings of Durer, and the theatre of Shakespeare and Calderon. Baroque tragedy, he argues, was distinguished from classical tragedy by its shift from myth into history. The characteristic atmosphere of the Trauerspiel was consequently ‘melancholy’. The emblems of baroque allegory point to the extinct values of a classical world that they can never attain or repeat. Their suggestive power, however, remains to haunt subsequent cultures, down to this century.
Selected for honorable mention for the Morris D. Forkosch Prize in intellectual history, awarded annually by the Journal of the History of Ideas"This sophisticated yet reader-friendly study represents a significant advance in American criticism on Walter Benjamin. . . . I endorse Irving Wohlfarth's statement that this is 'the best book-length study of Benjamin yet to have appeared in English' and enthusiastically recommend it to novice and devotee alike."—Philosophy and Literature
In this book, Weber, a leading theorist on literature and media, reveals a new and productive aspect of Benjamin's thought by focusing the critical suffix "-ability" that Benjamin so tellingly deploys in his work. The result is an illuminating perspective on Benjamin's thought by way of his language - and one of the most penetrating and comprehensive accounts of Benjamin's work ever written.
Elaborates the relationship between the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and the cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) through close readings of their respective texts as an example of the precariousness of cultural transmission in the present.
Detached from Shakespeare’s English, Hamlet has been rewritten numerous times in European languages, the various translations into any one language jostling with each other for dominance and spawning new Hamlets that depart decisively from Shakespeare as a source. This book focuses on the rich tradition of drawing from Hamlet in European cultures to produce new, independent works, which include Hamlet theatre, Hamlet ballet, Hamlet poetry, Hamlet fiction, Hamlet essays and Hamlet films. It examines how the myth of Hamlet has crossed back and forth over Europe’s linguistic borders for four hundred years, repeatedly reinvigorated by being bent to specific geo-political and cultural locations. The enquiries in this book show how, in the process of translation, adaptation and reinventing, Hamlet has become the common cultural currency of Europe.
Contemporary culture, today's capitalism - our global information society - is ever expanding, is ever more extensive. And yet we seem to be experiencing a parallel phenomenon which can only be characterised as intensive. This thought provoking, innovative book is dedicated to the study of such intensive culture. Whilst extensive culture is a culture of the same: a culture of fixed equivalence; intensive culture is a culture of difference, of in-equivalence - the singular. Intensities generate what we encounter. They are virtuals or possibilities, always in process and always in movement. We thus live in a culture that is both extensive and intensive. Indeed the more globally stretched and extensive social relations become the more they simultaneously seem to take on this intensity. Ours is a relational world where each intensity ? whether human, technological or biological ? provides a distinct, specific window onto the whole. Lash tracks the emergence and pervasion of this intensive culture in society, religion, philosophy, language, communications, politics and the neo-liberal economy itself. In so doing he redefines the work of Leibniz, Benjamin, Simmel, and Durkheim and inititates the reader into the ontological structures of our contemporary social relations. In the pursuit of intensive culture the reader is taken on an excursion from Karl Marx's Capital to the 'information theology' in the science fiction of Philip K. Dick. Diverse, engaging and rich in detail the resulting book will be of interest to all those studying social and cultural theory, sociology, media and communication and cultural studies
This radical series shows how Classical ideas and material have helped to shape the modern world. The interdisciplinary approach makes stimulating reading for all who welcome the challenge offered by new perspectives on Classical culture. Today we attribute a tragic quality to many things - works, experiences, values, events - but we forget how modern this idea is. This book traces the rise of the tragic idea from early Romanticism to late Modernism. Focusing on succinct, major statements, it maps one of the most absorbing philosophical conversations in modernity: the debate about the tragic meaning of life. This conversation has crossed geographical, linguistic, ideological and religious borders to bring thinkers together in an inquiry into the inner contradictions of liberty. While originally the tragic idea stood for the conflict of freedom and necessity, it gradually absorbed other irreconcilable dialectical collisions. It turned tragedy from a genre into a problem for ethics, aesthetics, criticism, classics, politics, anthropology and psychology, to name but a few. Scholars in these fields today will be fascinated to find human responsibility caught in the tragic web of modern dilemmas. Classicists in particular will be intrigued by the story of how, over the last two centuries, tragedy has acquired a second, parallel life away from the stage.
No other single author has so commanding a critical presence across so many disciplines within the arts and humanities, in so many national contexts, as Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). The belated reception of his work as a literary critic (dating from the late 1950s) has been followed by a rapid series of critical receptions in different contexts: Frankfurt Critical Theory and Marxism, Judaism, Film Theory, Post-structuralism, Philosophical Romanticism, and Cultural Studies.This collection brings together a selection of the most critically important items in the literature, across the full range of Benjamin's cultural-theoretical interests, from all periods of the reception of his writings, but focusing upon the most recent, to produce a comprehensive overview of the best critical literature.
Walter Benjamin was perhaps the twentieth century's most elusive intellectual. His writings defy categorization, and his improvised existence has proven irresistible to mythologizers. In a major new biography, Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings present a comprehensive portrait of the man and his times, as well as extensive commentary on his work.
In the summer of 1927, Walter Benjamin wrote about a possible future project on what he called French Trauerspiel, or mourning drama. In this volume of Yale French Studies, an international team of leading scholars of early modern Europe takes its cue from that lapsed project to reread the seventeenth-century French tragic canon as Trauerspiel. These new readings draw attention to early modern French theater's reflections on chance and contingency, political compromise, the question of allegory, the philosophy of the provisional, the place of sound, and the status of the creaturely.
Walter Benjamin is universally recognised as one of the key thinkers of modernity: his writings on politics, language, literature, media, theology and law have had an incalculable influence on contemporary thought. Yet the problem of architecture in and for Benjamin's work remains relatively underexamined. Does Benjamin's project have an architecture and, if so, how does this architecture affect the explicit propositions that he offers us? In what ways are Benjamin's writings centrally caught up with architectural concerns, from the redevelopment of major urban centres to the movements that individuals can make within the new spaces of modern cities? How can Benjamin's theses help us to understand the secret architectures of the present? This volume takes up the architectural challenge in a number of innovative ways, collecting essays by both well-known and emerging scholars on time in cinema, the problem of kitsch, the design of graves and tombs, the orders of road-signs, childhood experience in modern cities, and much more. Engaged, interdisciplinary, bristling with insights, the essays in this collection will constitute an indispensable supplement to the work of Walter Benjamin, as well as providing a guide to some of the obscurities of our own present.
A series of influential essays on the visual arts that were made possible by machines, and the implications for the future of culture.
Shakespeare Studies is an international volume published every year in hard cover that contains essays and studies by critics and cultural historians from both hemispheres. Although the journal maintains a focus on the theatrical milieu of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, it is also concerned with Britain's intellectual and cultural connections to the continent, its sociopolitical history, and its place in the emerging globalism of the period. In addition to articles, the journal includes substantial reviews of significant publications dealing with these issues, as well as theoretical studies relevant to scholars of early modem culture. Volume XXXVI features another in the journal's ongoing series of Forums, in which scholars exchange views on an issue of importance to early modern studies. Organized and introduced by Patrick Cheney, the Forum is entitled The Return of the Author and includes commentary by ten contributors considering the issue of authorship in a postmodern milieu. Volume XXXVI also features essays on Shakespeare's Hamlet, Henry V, and Richard II and an essay on Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, as well as fourteen reviews by scholars on such wide-ranging topics as early modern cultural capitals, the Jamestown project, shaping sound in Renaissance England, the places of London comedy, Shakespeare's Shylock, and the connections between animals, rationality, and humanity in Shakespeare's time. Susan Zimmerman is Professor of English at Queens College, CUNY. Garrett Sullivan is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.
By any account, German-speaking Jews have made among the greatest contributions to world culture in this century--one thinks of Wittgenstein and Husserl in philosophy, Freud in psychoanalysis, Kafka in fiction, and Paul Celan in poetry. Yet most Jews were exiled from German-speaking lands (when they were not murdered there), and they have never been integrated within German culture as such. The poet Nelly Sachs, who won the Nobel Prize in 1966 for her poetry on the Holocaust, and the critic Walter Benjamin are two such German- Jewish writers: born just over a century ago in Berlin and exiled from Germany in the 1930s, both were acclaimed after World War II (Benjamin posthumously), yet neither, to this day, is anything but an outsider to German literature. The present collection of essays addresses the uneasy relationship between Jews who are masters of the German language and the German literary tradition that still cannot accept the otherness of Jewish writers. After a biographical and historical introduction by the volume's two editors, individual chapters are devoted to Sachs, to Benjamin, to their comparison, and to Sachs in an international context. Topics explored include the Jewish themes and motifs in Sachs's distinctive verse-dramas; the limits of poetic metaphor with respect to representations of the Holocaust; the relationship of Benjamin's theories of dramatic language to Sachs's verse- dramas; and Benjamin's theories of language, imagery, and gesture in the contexts of Western philosophy, German literature, and Jewish thought. Before now, no work in any language has brought Sachs and Benjamin scholarship together under a single cover. Looking at these two internationally known and celebrated authors together reconfigures both the ways we understand them-- neither just "Jewish writers," nor indifferently German authors--and the ways we understand German literature. Timothy Bahti is Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan. Marilyn Sibley Fries was Associate Professor of German and Women's Studies, University of Michigan. By any account, German-speaking Jews have made among the greatest contributions to world culture in this century--one thinks of Wittgenstein and Husserl in philosophy, Freud in psychoanalysis, Kafka in fiction, and Paul Celan in poetry. Yet most Jews were exiled from German-speaking lands (when they were not murdered there), and they have never been integrated within German culture as such. The poet Nelly Sachs, who won the Nobel Prize in 1966 for her poetry on the Holocaust, and the critic Walter Benjamin are two such German- Jewish writers: born just over a century ago in Berlin and exiled from Germany in the 1930s, both were acclaimed after World War II (Benjamin posthumously), yet neither, to this day, is anything but an outsider to German literature. The present collection of essays addresses the uneasy relationship between Jews who are masters of the German language and the German literary tradition that still cannot accept the otherness of Jewish writers. After a biographical and historical introduction by the volume's two editors, individual chapters are devoted to Sachs, to Benjamin, to their comparison, and to Sachs in an international context. Topics explored include the Jewish themes and motifs in Sachs's distinctive verse-dramas; the limits of poetic metaphor with respect to representations of the Holocaust; the relationship of Benjamin's theories of dramatic language to Sachs's verse- dramas; and Benjamin's theories of language, imagery, and gesture in the contexts of Western philosophy, German literature, and Jewish thought. Before now, no work in any language has brought Sachs and Benjamin scholarship together under a single cover. Looking at these two internationally known and celebrated authors together reconfigures both the ways we understand them-- neither just "Jewish writers," nor indifferently German authors--and the ways we understand German literature. Timothy Bahti is Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan. Marilyn Sibley Fries was Associate Professor of German and Women's Studies, University of Michigan.
At stake in this book is a struggle with language in a time when our old faith in the redeeming of the word-and the word's power to redeem-has almost been destroyed. Drawing on Benjamin's political theology, his interpretation of the German Baroque mourning play, and Adorno's critical aesthetic theory, but also on the thought of poets and many other philosophers, especially Hegel's phenomenology of spirit, Nietzsche's analysis of nihilism, and Derrida's writings on language, Kleinberg-Levin shows how, because of its communicative and revelatory powers, language bears the utopian "promise of happiness," the idea of a secular redemption of humanity, at the very heart of which must be the achievement of universal justice. In an original reading of Beckett's plays, novels and short stories, Kleinberg-Levin shows how, despite inheriting a language damaged, corrupted and commodified, Beckett redeems dead or dying words and wrests from this language new possibilities for the expression of meaning. Without denying Beckett's nihilism, his picture of a radically disenchanted world, Kleinberg-Levin calls attention to moments when his words suddenly ignite and break free of their despair and pain, taking shape in the beauty of an austere yet joyous lyricism, suggesting that, after all, meaning is still possible.
This is the first of three volumes based on papers given at the conference 'The Fragile Tradition: The German Cultural Imagination Since 1500' in Cambridge, 2002. Together they provide a conspectus of current research on the cultural, historical and literary imagination of the German-speaking world across the whole of the modern period. This volume highlights the ways in which cultural memory and historical consciousness have been shaped by experiences of discontinuity, focusing particularly on the reception of the Reformation, the literary and ideological heritage of the Enlightenment, and the representation of war, the Holocaust, and the reunification of Germany in contemporary literature and museum culture.
Sophocles' Antigone is a touchstone in democratic, feminist and legal theory, and possibly the most commented upon play in the history of philosophy and political theory. Bonnie Honig's rereading of it therefore involves intervening in a host of literatures and unsettling many of their governing assumptions. Exploring the power of Antigone in a variety of political, cultural, and theoretical settings, Honig identifies the 'Antigone-effect' - which moves those who enlist Antigone for their politics from activism into lamentation. She argues that Antigone's own lamentations can be seen not just as signs of dissidence but rather as markers of a rival world view with its own sovereignty and vitality. Honig argues that the play does not offer simply a model for resistance politics or 'equal dignity in death', but a more positive politics of counter-sovereignty and solidarity which emphasizes equality in life.
Could there have been television without California? California without television? The one shows the other: the ostentatiously novel singularity of the place and the seemingly self-effacing transparency of the medium. Yet if television and California both promise again and again to offer us something new, young, immaculate in its transience - a pure surface that will never get caught in the ditch of time - they are also both haunted through and through: by the itinerant contents of the past that they cannot banish, by memories of the infantile-perverse utopian fantasies that taunt us in constant replay ("If you're going to San Francisco...," "two girls for every guy"), by the contradiction played out in the very gesture of dismissing history and leaving the dead to bury the dead. California and television, as it were, conspire in a vampirologic: the forever-young is what has been there the longest, what really "takes us back." And so we also will take ourselves back: to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, already almost charmingly quaint, and Walter Benjamin's magnum opus The Origin of the German Mourning-Play. What can come of this improbable conjunction? It will not seem too strange that Benjamin, posthumous wanderer across the textures of Americana, should again take up lodging at the Hotel California. But more is at stake than just another hapless visitation from the on high of high theory: reading Buffy as the remediated afterlife of the dead-on-arrival genre of the baroque German mourning play, Adler's book records the first broken, awkward steps toward a project that, with the recent rise of "quality television," seems more urgent than ever before: a political-theological characteristic of the television series.

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